During New York Fashion Week I was able to go to Dreamland, David Alan Jewelry. When you first walk into David’s atelier, you realize that it’s exactly that. A real life atelier, where real work is happening, and jewels are transformed into intricate pieces to be worn all over New York. But before I met with the eponymous jeweler, I meet his wife: Helena, who is definitely the most beautiful gem in the whole room. Not only is she gorgeous, but she’s also decked out in incredible jewelry. Bracelets, earrings, rings, you name it and Helena’s got it. David really doesn’t even need a lookbook, or a list of gallery images, all he needs is for his clients to take one look at his impeccably embellished lady. I’m automatically captivated and totally impressed. From what i can see, she’s wearing diamonds all around.
To be honest, I truly don’t know a LOT about jewelry, but I know what gorgeous, good jewelry looks like, and Helena is sparkling in it. With David’s unparalleled approach to custom creations (which receive rave reviews), it’s no wonder that some of New York’s best dressed, including my friend Jordan (a.k.a. Haute House Flower) choose David for some of their most precious pieces, including their engagement ring.
LFS: Tell me about how this happened, how all of this came to be! I’m so curious.
DAVID ALAN: I grew up in Westchester, NY and always wanted to be an architect, working as an architect’s apprentice during the summers and after school. Just before college I realized that architecture wasn’t my calling, though it taught me a lot about the way I approach design today; how a user and the object(s) need to coexist in balance with one another.
After college I wasn’t sure where to make use of my passion for design. My mother who understands me very, very well recommended that I take a jewelry class, and I fell immediately in love with it. I immediately understood that an old-world apprenticeship would be the right path to becoming a master jeweler. I was extremely fortunate to be accepted as an apprentice with a master French jeweler. Three years of arduous training, and subsequent years of work in two of the jewelry industry’s finest workshops gave me the skills I needed. I also held an amazing position in a high-end atelier where I got an incredible understanding of what it means to create an experience and treasured objects for people.
I opened my own workshop as a high-end contractor to the industry 20 years ago. Then almost 10 years ago I made the switch to be a private jeweler. This is really where I belong; connecting with people and creating their dreams in metal and stone. It’s a true joy.
HELENA: I was in fine jewelry for 15 years before I joined the company and joined forces with David two years ago. My background is in PR, marketing, and communications. When we originally met, I was a PR person in the fine jewelry industry, and David was one of my students. He was looking to brand himself because he understood the future and the movement was branded jewelry with a specific point of view. This was 10 years ago, and we got engaged, married, and we had a baby- right before our first wedding anniversary! We had two separate business lives and I was the creative director for an online fine jewelry store and it was amazing. I learned the whole digital space, and then finally we were ready to join forces two years ago.
LFS: So you really spent time to hone in on your craft! That’s incredible. And to really understand jewelry and custom, because that’s a trade.
DAVID: At my apprenticeship, I learned old-world craftsmanship; everything from scratch, to exacting precision. One tenth of a millimeter is like a mile to us. If you’ve ever seen the saw blades we use for jewelry, they’re not much thicker than a human hair!
LFS: How have things changed in terms of how people buy jewelry?
HELENA: In the past, David would wait for clients to find him by referral. There was no digital work, no Instagram, no marketing, none of the things you must do to be a modern business. Even if you’re a master craftsman that has beautiful jewelry, you have to connect with people in a way that they are comfortable with today and give them an amazing experience!
DAVID: And a wonderful business based on referral for many, many years. But that only gets so much of a growth potential.
LFS: When did you know you were a master jeweler?
DAVID: When I realized that anything I could think up, I can make. Putting myself to the challenge of something I’ve never done before is genuinely thrilling.
LFS: What’s the most extreme case of that? Where you’re working on something you’re not even sure is feasible?
DAVID: One of the things I’m working on right now actually. It’s an incredibly intricate pair of earrings. They’re part of a ten piece collection to celebrate my ten-year anniversary as a private jeweler.
LFS: These are all so stunning. What’s something you feel makes your pieces so unique?
HELENA: Being that David is a master jeweler he focuses on every single as it’s an old school mentality but David believes in making the jewelry beautiful from every angle, so it’s not just pretty on the top and then nothing happening but also no matter where you look at it, it’s beautiful.
DAVID: We also add details such as hidden elements, secret messages, and custom engraving to really personalize the pieces.
LFS: How do you source your gems and your diamonds?
DAVID: In many ways; it depends on what we need. We have connections all over the industry. Everything from custom cut stones in Thailand and Sri Lanka, to vintage and antique diamonds from collectors and dealers, to strategic partnerships with some of the deepest in the chain of mine to market. I am also very mindful of who we buy from. I work with people and businesses that we trust are ethically and ecologically conscious. These are years-long curated relationships that are very meaningful to us.
LFS: What do you think is the biggest piece of advice you can give to people buying jewelry, one thing to absolutely keep in mind?
DAVID: Get to know your jeweler, and only work with someone that you trust. Make certain that your jeweler takes the time to get to know you and your style. Your jewelry is your talisman; it should speak of you and what you love.
HELENA: If you’re shopping for an engagement ring, forget about the four c’s. Don’t obsess over the four c’s. If you don’t fall in love with a certain stone, even if it classifies, then it’s not the one!
DAVID: Buying a diamond is a lot like choosing a puppy. The champion show dog might not be the one you choose. You might fall for the runt of the litter, and that’s perfect as long as you’re in love!
My personal favorite thing about David’s jewelry- the pièce de résistance? David hides one pink diamond in each and every single one of his rings. This fact, I found to be so magical. A signature I had never seen before, and it was totally delightful. Oh, did I mention that all cleanings, and touch ups are complimentary for LIFE? Yes, that’s right, if you live in Manhattan, and you just need a little shine, David will spruce your pieces right up. I can’t wait to have any excuse to go and visit David for a new piece of jewelry (hint hint Bren).
To book an appointment directly and visit David’s incredible atelier (and have him make you something exquisite):
Address: 2 West 45th Street, Suite 1403, NYC 10036